Just a few days ago, we reported that Honda and Sony are putting the finishing touches on a new joint venture to build electric cars together, with the first [Shony? Hondy?] cars appearing in 2025. Between now and then, Honda doesn’t have much going on in the world of electric cars except for the overpriced Honda-e for the European markets, where it is breaking sales records, but not in a good way.
Today, Car News China is reporting that another joint venture — this one between GAC and Honda — is ready to begin accepting pre-orders for the Honda e:NP1, a midsize battery-electric SUV with a bargain basement starting price of 175,000 RMB, equivalent to US $26,000. To put that in perspective, the price of a Honda Civic LX in the US today is $22,350. For a few bucks more, people could be driving an electric 5-door hatchback that costs less to operate than any gasoline-powered car.
The e:N brand was created to build “a pure electric vehicle with unique Honda characteristics in the new era.” The ‘e’ stands for energized (power) and electric (electricity) and the ‘N’ stands for New (brand new) and Next (evolution). The ‘e:N’ series products are pure electric vehicle models targeting Chinese consumers. Honda aims to launch 10 pure electric models in the next five years in the Chinese market and launch those models globally in the upcoming years.
The e:NP1 is 4.3 meters long with a 2.6 meter wheelbase, which makes it sort of a Goldilocks car — not too big and not too small. It comes in two flavors, cleverly named Version 1 and Version 2. The first has a 134 kw (180 hp) motor with 310 Nm (229 ft-lb) of torque. It has a 53.6 kWh battery and a claimed range of 420 km (252 miles). Keep in mind there is a big difference between how range is measured in China and how it is measured in other parts of the world. EPA range will be at least a third less.
Version 2 lists for 205,000 RMB (US $30,500). It has a 150 kw (200 hp) motor with the same torque rating. It comes with a 68.8 kWh battery and a claimed range of 510 km (306 miles). The batteries for both cars have been jointly developed with CATL. The Honda e:NP1 will be launched officially on June 20. It is identical to the Dongfeng-Honda e:NS1, which is already on sale in China.
The Honda e:NP1 comes with a 10.25-inch LCD instrument screen, a 15.2-inch central control screen, and Honda’s latest intelligent control system called e:N OS, which includes the Honda CONNECT 3.0 intelligent guidance interconnection system and the Honda Sensing 360 advanced driving assistance system. That system uses 5-millimeter wave radars in the front and corners of the car to achieve 360 degree sensing. It will be included in cars that go on sale in the Chinese market later this year.
The Honda e:NP1 also supports remote door, window, and air conditioning controls, and its driver status perception system recognizes the driver’s state of mind and emotions to actively send safety reminders to drivers. So if you are about to be involved in a road rage incident, the car may help talk you down from the cliff by playing Kumbaya, My Lord in your choice of language.
My first Honda was a 1973 Civic coupe. That was followed by a 1976 Accord which I used as my daily driver as well as for TSD rallies and autocrossing. Later in life, I reverted to a 2010 Civic that gave me 130,000 miles of faithful service. I sold that car to a neighbor two years ago, who uses it as her daily driver. The only money she has spent on it is the cost of having a key made after she lost hers.
We know that a car that sells for $26,000 in China would sell for considerably more in the US, but just imagine if Honda were to offer something like this — a 5-door compact SUV with a good driver assistance package for around $30,000? Honda wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand.
There is no suggestion Honda has any intention of selling the e:NP1 in America and maybe that makes sense, as Americans have a nearly unlimited appetite for cars costing $60,000 or more, but if it were able to use a fast charge with at least 100 kW of power, it would be a fine car for three-quarters of all Americans. Build it, Honda, and they will come!
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